By Jess Nicholas, TideFans.com Editor-In-Chief
Sept. 11, 2012
Last week’s record: 8-2 (80.0%)
Season record: 20-2 (90.9%)
The Week 3 schedule got turned on its ear thanks to Louisiana-Monroe, which added Arkansas to its list of SEC pelts and managed to make the Florida-Tennessee contest arguably more important to a division title than Arkansas-Alabama. Meanwhile, Auburn gets next crack at the Warhawks, who suddenly aren’t the patsy they were supposed to be.
FLORIDA at TENNESSEE
Before the season started, this game was viewed as the meeting of two potentially mediocre teams that were mere shells of their former selves, fighting for third or fourth in the SEC East. But Tennessee’s impressive opening win over North Carolina State, coupled with Florida winning its SEC debut on the road in College Station, have changed the dynamics of this one somewhat. Tennessee has a more dangerous offense, but doesn’t have a great defense. Florida’s defense is growing salty, but its offense continues to misfire with a young quarterback at the helm. On a neutral site, Florida should win 7 out of 10 times, maybe more, but this game is in Knoxville. If Derek Dooley is to save his job, a win against Florida is a must.
ALABAMA at ARKANSAS
See our extended preview!
FLORIDA-ATLANTIC at GEORGIA
Florida Atlantic is gunning for the title of worst Division-IA team in the country right now. The Owls are 1-1 with a slim 7-3 win over Wagner and a loss to MTSU, which itself lost to a lower-division opponent in its opener. The Dawgs will play a little more old-man football and easily put this one away.
WESTERN KENTUCKY at KENTUCKY
If you’re looking for an upset special this week, here it is. No one is sold yet on the Wildcats, despite Kentucky’s drubbing of Kent State in Week 2. Western Kentucky is coming off an admirable performance against Alabama, 35-0 losers in a game where the score was made lopsided by too many turnovers. Kentucky had best not sleep on this one.
W. Kentucky 20
ARIZONA STATE at MISSOURI
This figures to be one of the most entertaining games of week, if for no other reason than to watch the offensive fireworks that figure to come. Arizona State is off to a 2-0 start and its offense looks for real; Missouri hung with Georgia for a half before yielding to the Bulldogs’ superior depth in the Tigers’ opening salvo in the SEC. The PAC-12 is looking good so far, and Arizona State is beginning to emerge as a possible spoiler, but the Tigers have the home field and that should be a big boost in this game.
Arizona State 31
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM at SOUTH CAROLINA
UAB is a bit of a mess at the moment, while South Carolina may be the class of the SEC East. There won’t be much drama here, unless South Carolina QB Connor Shaw is out again and erratic backup Dylan Thompson repeats his Vanderbilt performance rather than the one he put up against East Carolina.
South Carolina 38
PRESBYTERIAN at VANDERBILT
The Commodores have scored only 13 points in each of their first two games, and have two losses to show as a result. Presbyterian provides a breather, as it barely has a football team to speak of, coming off a 59-3 loss to Georgia Tech. Time to build some confidence in Nashville.
LOUISIANA-MONROE at AUBURN
Suddenly, this throwaway game is the talk of the SEC Week 3 slate. Louisiana-Monroe comes in having knocked off Arkansas in Little Rock, while Auburn got crushed by Mississippi State. There are strong indications Auburn may be soon dealing with more bad press regarding its recruiting efforts, this time in Memphis. Meanwhile, Louisiana-Monroe finds itself in a game where it might actually have the superior offensive talent, especially at quarterback. And it might not be close. But don’t expect miracles two weeks in a row.
IDAHO at LOUISIANA STATE
Cover your eyes, grandma.
TEXAS at MISSISSIPPI
The biggest mystery in this game is how Ole Miss ever convinced Texas to come to Oxford. This is the first test for Hugh Freeze’s Ole Miss team, and more specifically, his defense, which looks to have all the holding power of a colander. Longhorn fans making the trip probably won’t know what to make of rural northern Mississippi and the famous Grove, either. And somewhere, Jackie Sherrill may be plotting a return to the state of Mississippi, carrying with him a pair of bolt-cutters. If nothing else, this one will be entertaining, albeit in the same way Larry The Cable Guy is to some people.
Ole Miss 21
MISSISSIPPI STATE at TROY
Meanwhile, while big brother Ole Miss plays host to Texas, Mississippi State managed to book itself a road trip to Troy, Ala. While not the finest hour in SEC non-conference schedule-making, Mississippi State should be able to use the opportunity to advance to 3-0 on the season. After its victory over Auburn in Week 2, the Bulldogs might even get an escort to Troy from the state line from happy Alabama fans.
Mississippi St. 24
TEXAS A&M at SOUTHERN METHODIST
Three weeks into its SEC membership, and Texas A&M goes and revives the memory of the old Southwest Conference. Southern Methodist got crunched in its opener against Baylor, though, and doesn’t appear to have as good a team as a lot of people expected. Texas A&M’s sometimes-soft defense might have trouble containing the SMU offense all the time, but the Aggies should have no trouble scoring when they have the ball.
Texas A&M 47
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